Diminishing Jesus

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Even though the LDS Church displays Jesus prominently in its name, the reality is it proclaims a diminished Jesus. An article in the January 2016 issue of the Ensign illustrates this

“Knowing the Godhead” was written by one of the 12 apostles of the LDS Church, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. He emphasizes Mormonism’s rejection of the Trinity, declaring it a great distortion which became embodied in the Nicene Creed. He states: “So we are very comfortable, frankly, in letting it be known that we do not hold a fourth – or fifth-century pagan-influenced view of the Godhead, and neither did those first Christian saints who were eyewitnesses of the living Christ. We are New Testament – not Nicene – Christians.”

But Mormonism’s rejection of the Trinity is not what I want to address. Rather, I want to look at two different ways Elder Holland shows how Mormonism doesn’t give Jesus equal honor with the Father. This is extremely significant in light of what Jesus said in John 5:22-23. “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” The Son is to be honored just as the Father is honored. In other words, he is to receive equal honor.

Equal honor is something Mormonism doesn’t give him. This diminishing of Jesus, however, is often quite subtle. Consider the following statement by Elder Holland. “I testify that we are to serve the Father in the name of the Son, just as we are to pray to the Father in the name of the Son.” Do you see the distinction? It’s the Father who they serve.  It’s the Father to whom they pray. (More than once a Mormon has responded incredulously when I told them I prayed to Jesus. I remember one exclaiming: “You probably pray to the Holy Ghost too!) They only pray to the Father because he is who they see as their God. Again Holland: “It is most significant that lesson 1 in Preach the Gospel begins with the simple declaration that ‘God is our Heavenly Father’.”

In line with this, carefully read the following sentence from the article on worship in True to the Faith.  “As you reverently partake of the sacrament and attend the temple, you remember and worship your Heavenly Father and express your gratitude for His Son, Jesus Christ.” (p. 188) Do you see the subtle distinction? They worship the Father. They express gratitude for Jesus.

Mormonism teaches Jesus is not to be prayed to or worshiped. Mormonism diminishes Jesus.

Some Mormons object to this especially the statement that they don’t worship Jesus. The trouble with their saying they also worship Jesus is then they would be worshiping more than one God (since Mormonism emphasizes that the Father and the Son are separate) and thus would be breaking the first commandment. Most Mormons, when I have pointed this out to them, have not thought of it in that way.

The second way Holland diminishes Jesus is in this sentence. “I testify that Jesus Christ came to do the will of the Father, taught the doctrine of the Father, and worked out His own salvation through the Father.” Jesus had to work out his own salvation?  This is not the Jesus I know.

It’s not enough to know that Mormonism diminishes Jesus. What’s important is how we react to it. Here’s what I’m hoping you will do with this knowledge.

  • Refer to this whenever anybody says there are no major differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity.
  • Remember this as an example of how subtly Mormonism often speaks. You will have to explore topics thoroughly with your Mormon friends so that both they and you see the differences. (Often they don’t even see the subtly of LDS doctrine.)
  • Be spurred on by examples like this to share with them our Jesus – the one who deserves our worship and praise for working out our salvation for us.